Proclaim is a church presentation software by Faithlife, the people that also bring you Logos Bible Software. Proclaim entered the church service presentation scene about four years ago with the idea of leveraging the cloud to store and sync presentations. Just like building a worship flow, the slides of a service often need to be collaboratively constructed by people that don’t work next to each other, or even in the same physical building. Of course, these days it is far more than just “slides” being built for a worship service. And over the years, Proclaim has proven that it can scale to meet the growing functionality needs of small and large churches.
This latest release of Proclaim is version 2, though the version number itself is deceiving because this is a very mature product that feels like it has been around since churches started using projectors. Before I get started, I should mention that while I have many years of experience serving on a pretty technical production team at my church, my primary role has not been on the CG or “lyrics” position. However, perhaps this can provide perspective appreciated by those not familiar with Proclaim.
Ease of Use
Like all maturing products, especially software, the expanding functionality is usually in tension with simplicity of use. Proclaim seems to have walked this tightrope well. Anyone having experience with PowerPoint or just about any other presentation software will be able to jump right in and set to work building slides.
Getting started is a breeze. During the install, you’ll be prompted to create an online account that will serve as the “saving” destination of your presentations (a key detail of the collaboration feature). You’ll have options to access self-help videos to assist with your first presentation. But as I mentioned before, I skipped these and didn’t have any problems with building a good looking presentation.
The three main modes of “Edit”, “Preview”, and “On Air” are all intuitive and easy to use with the most typically needed setting visible in place that make sense. One significant ease-of-use feature is management of external displays. If you have multiple displays set up with your computer, Proclaim will automatically configure them for projector and confidence monitor, with easy ability to switch as needed. This can save huge headaches, especially for those that have to set up on a weekly basis.
If for some reason you have trouble getting started and the self-help videos are not enough, users can schedule one-on-one time with a trainer from Faithlife to assist.
One of the goals of Proclaim is to make it difficult or impossible to make a bad looking presentation. Traditionally, bad looking presentation haven’t necessarily been limitations of the presentation software. Technically speaking, you could make a good looking presentation in Microsoft Paint. No, bad looking presentations are typically the result of presentation authors either not knowing how to make them look good, or not have time to make it look good. Proclaim has gone to great lengths to eliminate these hurdles and make good looking presentations the default.
One example of this is how song slides are created from a block of lyrics. By simply pasting the entire block of lyrics into the lyrics section of a single song slide, Proclaim splits the lyrics into different slides based on blank lines in the lyrics. Additionally, when you change the style of the slide (font, background, image, etc.), it affects every slide. So in a matter of seconds, you can have all slides for a song created, consistent, and looking great. By the way, new with version 2 of Proclaim is the ability to make modifications to individual slides within a song.
When it comes to running your presentation, Proclaim handles with ease the normal flow of well-planned slides, with a few options on how to display and navigate through the slides. But we all know that worship services rarely go exactly as planned, leaving the presentation operator to do some quick behind the scenes improv, rather than showing the wrong slides or just “going to black”. The use of Proclaim’s “quick screens” let’s the operator click to configurable screens on the fly (the “configurable” part being new with version 2). Whether it is a spontaneous Bible verse, or an empty slide with a background image, or an animated “AMEN!”. Operators also have the ability to overlay “Pager” numbers to notify parents of children that need their attention, as well as “Crawl Text” to show other longer, spontaneous messages for everyone to see.
Of course, online collaboration is one of the core features of Proclaim. As I mentioned above, the presentations you build are automatically synced to the cloud. So, while the Proclaim program must be downloaded and installed, access to the presentations are seamlessly synced to and from the cloud, with no need to copy files to thumb drives or emailing them around. Simply configure your team of folks that need to access the presentations, and fire up the application from the desired computers. And thanks to their simplified licensing, you can install the program on as many computers as you need without having to pay for each copy.
There are numerous features that I’d consider to be “extras” in that they go so far beyond what you’d consider standard for presentation software. In the interest of time, I can only touch on a few of them. But it’s well worth taking a look at their “Features” page to see all the amazing extra things you can do.
Without even having to leave the Proclaim program, you can access a slew of content for your presentation, from song lyrics, to still background, to motion backs, to video countdowns, and more. And depending on your subscription level and the content source, some media is included at no additional charge.
Proclaim has a great feature called Signals. Signals provides pathways for sending to, or interacting with, people (including congregational members) during the service. For example, if the speaking pastor wanted information pushed to people’s smart phones at a certain point during the message, this can be set up and triggered in Proclaim when a specific slide goes up on the screen.
Or, if the pastor wanted to take a live survey during the message, this could also be pushed to members of the congregation during the service, and the real-time results could be displayed on the screen as people respond. Honestly, my mind was blown when I saw the demonstration on this. Signals (built into Proclaim) is the vehicle for this, and a free smartphone app called Faithlife is how information is collected from or pushed to people.
Once the service is finished, Proclaim gives you the option to publish various media from the service, including parts of the presentation, and even an audio recording of the message. Saving and sharing audio recordings might be something larger churches are already doing. But the way it is done in Proclaim is so simple, churches of any size could use this feature. When building the presentation, you just add “start recording” and “stop recording” triggers to appropriate slides. After the service, there’s a tool for performing minor audio edits (like trimming it up a bit). Then with just a click or two, the audio can be posted to the web. It doesn’t get much easier that that.
Whether your are a big or small church, Proclaim Church Presentation Software is an intuitive and yet feature-rich presentation software that goes well beyond just making and displaying slides. Collaboration is baked into its core with real-time syncing among team members working together from diverse locations. Integration into media outlets keep presentation designers from having to scour the web for the perfect stills, motion backs, or videos. And the seamless advanced features will allow your church to interact with your congregation in ways typically only possible by churches with big, tech-savvy production teams.
Proclaim offers a free 30-day free trial for your entire team. This free trial also comes with Pro Media, a collection of more than 10,000 motion backgrounds and still images.